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WWE Continuing Raw, Smackdown Rights Talks From Position Of Strength

  • Pro wrestling property posts series of marked gains across its business
  • McMahon served with federal grand jury subpoena
Courtesy WWE

As other sports properties such as the Pac-12 Conference struggle to complete media rights deals in a fracturing market, WWE sees itself in a strong position, with a fresh batch of financial results to prove it.

On Tuesday, the company reported record quarterly revenue of $410.3 million, up by 25% year-over-year, and $87.3 million in operating income, a boost of 26%.

The banner results stemmed from continued strength across WWE’s business, including 26% and 19% audience growth for respective weekly flagship programs SmackDown and Raw, double-digit percentage viewership boosts for premium live events such as WrestleMania and Night of Champions, and a new arena gross record for its recent Money In The Bank event in London.

Those results boost WWE as it looks to complete a new set of rights deals for SmackDown and Raw. Current pacts with USA Network and Fox expire next year, and exclusive negotiating periods with those networks recently ended.

“We’re there [in the market] in full force with a robust product that seems to have quite high ratings and relevancy at the moment,” said WWE CEO Nick Khan. “The OTT buyers seem quite interested in not only Raw, not only SmackDown, but NXT, as do the more traditional buyers. We think it’s a very strong landscape for products that register.”

Khan also touted WWE’s previously announced merger with Endeavor-owned UFC to create a new public company, TKO Group Holdings, with completion targeted for later this year.

“We remain excited about the combination of these highly complementary businesses and rolling out the global live sports and entertainment pure-play,” he said.

McMahon Subpoena

WWE also disclosed that federal law enforcement agents served executive chairman Vince McMahon with a grand jury subpoena last month related to prior misconduct by McMahon, and executed a search warrant.

No charges have been brought in the investigation, and Khan declined to comment.

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